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The Irony in "Trifles"

             Though men and women are now recognized as equal in intelligence, when Susan Glaspell wrote "Trifles" and "A Jury of Her Peers" in 1916, it was not so. In this turn-of-the-century setting, women were barely educated and had no power. Relegated to home, women found themselves at the mercy of the men in their lives. It is just this powerless existence that over time developed into a power with which women could baffle their male counterparts: an intuition. In Glaspell's story, ironic situations contrast male and female intuition, illustrating that Minnie Wright is more fairly judged by "a jury of her peers.".
             "Trifles" illustrates the contrasting intuitions when the men go looking for clues to the murder of John Wright, but it is the women who find them. They bring Mrs. Hale and Mrs. Peters along to tend to the practical matters, considering them preoccupied with trivial things and unable to contribute to the investigation. While the men are looking for something obvious, the women find more subtle clues despite themselves and even try to hide from each other what they know. They are bound by a power they don't comprehend, as Mrs. Hale states, "We all go through the same things - it's all just a different kind of the same thing" (1333). Though sympathetic to Minnie, the women cannot deny the clues that lead them to the conclusion of her guilt.
             If it is ironic that the women find the clues, it is even more ironic that they find them in the trivial household items to which the men attribute so little significance. "Nothing here but kitchen things," the sheriff says (1326). The women, "used to worrying over trifles" (1326), attach importance to the mundane, looking around the kitchen, they see many examples of the hard existence of Minnie. Knowing the pride a woman takes in her home, they see Minnie's kitchen half-cleaned, not dirty, and the significance is not lost on them. Upon discovering the erratic quilt stitching, they are alarmed.

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